Askew Offers Answers

In 2004 Tennessee signed five defensive prospects that were rated four or five stars, including a pair of top 15 linebackers, the nation's No. 1 JUCO D-lineman and the nation's No. 5 high school tackle, but the real defensive star of that class turned out to be Jerod Mayo, a three-star linebacker from Hampton, Va.

Ranked the nation's No. 25 linebacker that year, Mayo went on to start three seasons on The Hill and was a first-round draft choice of the New England Patriots in April. Remarkably, Mayo was one of four prospects — along with defensive ends Lemont Holt-Jeffers, Todd Kelly and James Wilson — to sign with the Vols from that southeast Virginia seaport city founded in 1610, and all four became team captains.

This year the Vols are hoping to have the same type of success when moving 19 miles down the coast to the city of Chesapeake, where there happens to be another Virginia linebacker named Jerrod who appears tailor made for Tennessee's strong-side role.

At 6-foot, 230 pounds, with 4.55 speed and even faster reactions, Askew is in the Eddie Moore mode of Sam linebackers, given his relentless energy, laudable leverage and uncanny instincts. Coincidentally, Moore also served as team captain at Tennessee in 2002.

As a junior at Oscar F. Smith High School, Askew compiled 120 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss, with 14 sacks, and a pair of picks. He earned all-district honors for his efforts and was voted to the All-Tidewater team as Smith posted a 13-1 record before being knocked off in the Class-AAA semifinals.

Ranked No. 13 at his position by and rated a four-star talent, Askew is a very physical defender with an analytical mind. He hits like a sledgehammer, blows up lead blockers and generally creates havoc. He ranges from sideline to sideline to make plays, and although aggressive by nature, rarely gets out of position due to his ability to recover quickly. He's also good in coverage and a force on the blitz. Askew has the size and speed to play any of the three linebacker positions, which allows a defensive coordinator the luxury of moving him along the line to better disguise his blitzes, but his future looks to be best served at the Sam LB.

Askew is considering offers from Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Tennessee among others. He hasn't named a favorite to this point and indicates he will take his official visits this fall and announce his decision after the season.

The summer will be allocated to camps and unofficial visits as he attempts to get down to a final five by September. Plans call for him to attend camps at Clemson, Maryland and Tennessee. The Vols senior camp is set for Saturday, June 14.

UT's coaches should give him a highlight tape showing how players similar in stature excelled on the right flank in the Vols strike-and-react 4-3 scheme. Players like Moore, Earnest Fields, Scott Gaylon, Craig King, Anthony Sessions and Ryan Karl were able to thrive in that role.

He might just see a place for himself at Tennessee and in the gridiron jungle that is SEC football.

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